The antidote to ugly


I can't remember a time in my life when ugliness has been so prevalent, so in my face. The daily barrage of pure, unadulterated ugliness somehow unnerves me and leaves me in a constant state of uncertainty. I'm not talking about crime and violence. I know what to do with that.

I'm talking about this insidious meanness and vulgarity for its own sake - or for no sake at all. Leaders letting loose with their worst instincts. Words and behavior that take your breath away, yet somehow begin to feel normal.

Then, in the midst of this morass, you witness unexpected (why unexpected?) kindness or generosity or courage - and your throat catches. A tear forms. You want to hold it and savor it and appreciate the preciousness of it, as if you had forgotten what an extraordinarily kind and generous and brave world we live in.

Wait. That's the antidote. Stop staring at the ugliness. Look away. Turn it off.

Better yet, amplify beauty. Turn up the volume on kindness and generosity. Celebrate courage and caring. Make a joyful noise.

If the antidote to dark is light, the antidote to ugliness is beauty.

It takes a little discipline, but we can do it. Tape a little sign by your bed, so you see it first thing when you wake up in the morning: "See beauty. It's everywhere."

Engage friends and colleagues to share stories of real boldness and courage - until that begins to feel normal.

Like the Homeland Security slogan, "if you see something, say something," when you see beauty, in any of its forms, say something.

Share it. Turn up the volume. Turn on the lights.

As soon as we consistently decide where to focus our attention, this ugly game is over. The better idea wins.

Phew. That was close.